Hibernation is a time
when animals ‘sleep’ through cold weather.
This sleep is not like human sleep where loud noises can wake
you up. With true
hibernation, the animal can be moved around or touched and not know
it. [Don’t you do
this, though. Some
animals only go into a torpor or temporary sleep time and can wake
up quickly. Like BEARS.]
We are going to use the word 'sleep' sometimes but
hibernation is different from regular sleep. With normal
sleep, the animal moves a little, has an active brain, and can wake
up very quickly. With true hibernation, the animal appears
dead. There is no movement and it takes a long time for it to
wake up enough to even walk around.
We will show you how animals get ready to
sleep the winter away, what it is like, and who does it.
During the fall, hibernating animals eat more food than
usual. Their bodies will
live off their body fat as they ‘sleep’ through winter.
The animal will use up the body fat it stores and not lose
any muscle. This causes
the animal to come out of hibernation thinner but still as strong as
it was in the fall.
animals get their winter nests, dens and burrows
ready. Different kinds
of animals hibernate in different kinds of safe spots.
When they go into hibernation and their bodies slow down,
enemies can get them easier. They
try to pick the safest place to spend the winter away from these
WHAT IT IS AND WHO DOES
Hibernation is the way that animals adapt
to the climate and land
around them. Animals
must be able to live through extreme cold…. or die.
Animals hibernate—or deep sleep—to escape that cold.
They also do this because it is really hard to find food
during the winter.
think about body energy too often.
Our bodies are like machines that need power to work right.
Food gives animals the energy they need to walk, run, hunt
for food, and lots of other things.
Hibernating animals store food as body fat during the end of
summer and during fall. This
body fat runs their bodies all winter.
This would be hard to do if they stayed awake, moved around a
lot, or ran around because those things would use up the body fat
before winter was over. A
hibernating animal’s body saves energy by doing a couple of cool
animal begins to hibernate, its body temperature drops very low so
that it almost matches the temperature outside.
Your temperature is normally about 98.6 degrees Fahrenheit.
If you were a hibernator and it was 30 degrees outside, your
body temperature would drop from 98.6 down to about 30-40 degrees.
The animal’s heartbeat and breathing
slow down, too. This is
when that stored fat that the animal packed on in the fall comes in
handy. This stored fat
lasts longer because their bodies are slowed down so much that they
don’t need much energy. This
is how the animal makes it through the whole winter on the fat it
has stored in its body. This
is why it's important for animals to get enough food stored in the
fall. If there is a
shortage of food at that time, the animal might not live until
spring when it can find its food again.
these hibernators also store food in their caves and burrows.
The ones that do this do not sleep straight through the
winter. They wake up
once in awhile, walk around a little, and eat before they go back to
sleep. Some warm-blooded
Cold-blooded hibernators begin hibernation when the cold
weather causes their body temperatures to drop.
Cold-blooded animals do not have a body temperature like
humans do. Our
temperature stays about 98.6 degrees Fahrenheit all the time.
Cold-blooded animal temperatures stay the same as the air
temperature around them. If
it is 50 degrees outside, the lizard is around 50 degrees.
If it is 110 outside, then they are about 110, too.
Since we already said that hibernators adapt to their environments,
you can see why these animals would try to escape extreme cold AND
heat by hibernating. Hibernation
is sleeping through cold and estivation
is sleeping through heat. Cold-blooded
hibernators will wake up when the air outside warms or cools enough
for them to be comfortable. Some
cold-blooded hibernators are: